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Mars Curiosity rover sends ‘selfie’ from its ongoing tour of Mars

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Mars Curiosity rover sends ‘selfie’ from its ongoing tour of Mars

While much recent attention has been given to the latest rover to land on Mars, Perseverance, the Curiosity rover is still working on the red planet. Curiosity has been on Mars for more than 3,000 sols (Martian days) and has captured nearly 800,000 images. Curiosity’s latest image is a composite of 71 images captured by a pair of cameras, and the new image looks like Curiosity snapped a selfie.

The new image shows Curiosity in front of ‘Mont Mercou,’ a rock outcrop that stands 20′ (6m) tall. The panorama comprises 60 shots captured by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on the rover’s robotic arm on March 26, 2021, the 3,070th sol of the Curiosity mission. These shots were combined by 11 images shot by the Mastcam on Curiosity’s ‘head.’ Those 11 shots were captured on March 16, the 3,060th sol of the mission. To download a massive version of the new panorama, visit NASA.

”NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used two different cameras to create this selfie in front of Mont Mercou, a rock outcrop that stands 20 feet (6 meters) tall. The panorama is made up of 60 images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on the rover’s robotic arm on March 26, 2021, the 3,070th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. These were combined with 11 images taken by the Mastcam on the mast, or ‘head,’ of the rover on March 16, 2021, the 3,060th Martian day of the mission.’ Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The small hole visible to the left of the rover is where Curiosity’s robotic drill sampled a rock. The rock has been nicknamed ‘Nontron.’ NASA says that the Curiosity team is nicknaming features in this part of Mars using names from the region around the village of Nontron in southwestern France.

In addition to the new image shown above, NASA also published a 360-degree panorama of Curiosity’s view approaching Mont Mercou. You can see the image below, but for the full impact, you must visit NASA. The panorama is made up of 126 individual images captured on March 3, 2021. The panorama has been white-balanced, such that the colors of the rocks resemble how they would appear under daytime conditions on Earth.

”NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used its Mastcam instrument to take the 126 individual images that make up this 360-degree panorama on March 3, 2021, the 3,048th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Right of center in the upper part of the image is ‘Mont Mercou,’ a ~20-foot-tall (6-meter-tall) outcrop nicknamed after a mountain in France. Beyond the outcrop are peaks higher up Mount Sharp, the mountain Curiosity has been rolling up since 2014. Mount Sharp’s summit can be seen at the top of the image, just left of center.’ Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

As additional background on Curiosity, the rover is about the size of a small SUV. It’s 10′ (3m) long, 9′ (2.7m) wide and 7′ (2.2m) tall. The rover weighs 1,982 lbs (899kg) on Earth, but it weighs 743 lbs in Mars gravity due to the difference in gravity. The mission objective is to search areas of Mars for past or present conditions favorable for life and search for conditions favorable to preserving records of past life.

Curiosity launched on November 26, 2011, and landed on Mars on August 5, 2012. The original mission lasted a Martian year, which is about 23 Earth months. Since then, Curiosity has continued to operate, and its mission has been extended indefinitely. Curiosity just keeps going!

Captured in 2015, this self-portrait of Curiosity shows the rover at the ‘Big Sky’ site, where its drill collected the mission’s fifth taste of Mount Sharp. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

You can also check out a stereoscopic image NASA has built using shots captured by Curiosity here. You can view additional images captured by both Curiosity and Perseverance can be viewed here.

Perseverance recently released the launch lock on its onboard Ingenuity helicopter, which is a momentous occasion and a big accomplishment for the team. You can see that below. To learn more about Ingenuity, check out our prior coverage.

‘NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter extends vertically into place after being rotated outward from its horizontal position on the belly of the Perseverance rover on March 29, 2021, the 38th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. This image was taken by the WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering) camera on the SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals) instrument, located at the end of the rover’s long robotic arm.’ For additional information

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Halide announces Kino, a “Pro Video Camera” for iOS

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Halide announces Kino, a “Pro Video Camera” for iOS


Lux, the team behind the Apple Design Award-winning photography app Halide, has announced Kino, an app that it claims will bring pro-level video tools to iPhone users.

The developers state that Kino is intended to give users complete control in both automatic and manual shooting modes based on some clever built-in logic. The app includes a feature called AutoMotion, which automatically sets a 180º shutter angle in order to create cinematic motion blur. An ‘Auto’ label turns green when the settings are just right, letting you know you’re good to go. If the camera can’t achieve a 180º shutter, such as when shooting outdoors in bright light, you may need to add an ND filter to allow the shutter to lock onto the correct angle.

Another headline feature is Instant Grade, which takes advantage of Apple Log, available on the newest iPhone 15 Pro models. Apple’s camera app records Log footage in ProRes format, which creates large files and requires editing to finalize color; Instant Grade will allow users to apply color presets directly to Apple Log footage as it’s being captured and saves the recordings in the more efficient HEVC format, allowing for cinematic video straight out of camera. The app includes color presets from pro colorists, but users can import their own LUTs into the app as well.

Kino includes color presets created by professional colorists.

The app also includes advanced features, such as the ability to save files into either Apple’s Photos app or to a specific file location, composition guides, audio levels, USB-C storage compatibility, RGB waveform, manual focus with peaking, WB/AE lock, exposure compensation and a lockable user interface.

For beginners who may not be as familiar with a video-first workflow, the app will include free lessons on the basics of shooting video.

Kino is available beginning today at a promotional price of $9.99, though the company indicated that the price will increase to $19.99 “a few days after launch.”


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Sigma CEO talks market trends, the challenge of innovation and the future for APS-C

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Sigma CEO talks market trends, the challenge of innovation and the future for APS-C


Sigma CEO Kazuto Yamaki

Photo: Richard Butler

“All camera and lens manufacturers have to be innovative,” says Sigma CEO Kazuto Yamaki, but “technology competition among manufacturers may not always be beneficial to customers… Easier to use interfaces, compact and lightweight bodies for enhanced portability, or some other specifications might be more important.”

In the second part of a wide-ranging interview conducted at the CP+ show in Yokohama in late February, Yamaki talked about current state of the market, the need for innovation and the challenges of delivering that innovation.

State of the market

“Last year was not so bad,” he says, when asked about the state of the market: “It looks like the trend of the shrinking market has hit the bottom.” But he suggests this may not continue: “For the time being, many photographers are now switching from DSLR to mirrorless, which will sustain the market. However, after they switch to mirrorless cameras, I worry that the market could shrink in the coming years.”

“One reason for my concern is the increasing average price of cameras and lenses. I truly appreciate the passion of the customers who are still spending so much money on cameras and lenses. However, I’m afraid that not so many customers can afford such high-priced cameras and lenses, so we’re still trying hard to keep the retail price reasonable.”

“I’m afraid that not so many customers can afford such high-priced cameras and lenses”

“Especially these days, the younger generation takes huge amounts of photos with smartphones. While we can expect some of them to switch from a smartphone to a camera, many may find the price gap too wide, and challenging to make the switch.”

Yamaki also expresses concern about some of the tech trends he’s seeing: “Investing in the development of more advanced technology is crucial. However, it’s equally important to focus on our customers.”

“We’ve seen some cameras with very technically impressive specifications, but I worry that they’re not always capabilities that many photographers really need. Moving forward, I speculate that more user-friendly specifications might mean more to customers. Easier to use interfaces, a compact and lightweight body for enhanced portability, or some other specifications might be more important.”

The challenges of innovation

Sigma has launched some ambitious and unusual lenses in recent years, including the 14mm F1.4 DG DN. Yamaki describes astrophotography, for which it’s designed, as the most challenging subject.

Image: Sigma

He uses the recently announced 500mm F5.6 as an example of customer-focused innovation. “Canon and Nikon had similar lenses for DSLRs. They achieved it by using diffractive lens elements,” he explains: “Instead of using one powerful diffractive element, we used multiple special low-dispersion [SLD] glass. We used one SLD and three FLD elements. By using multiple special lenses, we could achieve a similar effect. That’s how we can make it so compact and lightweight.”

But this approach isn’t simple, he says: “It requires lots of very high manufacturing technology and skill, but because we have a very good factory and our optical designers trust the capability of our factory, we were able to go for this design.”

“In most cases, we are the first to use new types of glass, and once they see Sigma use that lens element, they start using it.”

“This trust is really, really important,” he explains: “Lens polishing is still a unique process that has a lower yield. Normally, in something like electronics, the yield ratio is something like 99.99996 percent, or something like that. But when it comes to lenses, for example, in our case, because our yield is so high, our yield ratio from the start of the process to the end is close to 90%. So if we plan to build 1,000 units of a specific lens, we have to start polishing 1,100 pieces, and during the process, about 10% of the lens elements will fail and have to be scrapped.”

A question of trust

“That’s the reason why other companies hesitate to use new glass elements. They are uncertain about the yield ratio. In most cases, we are the first to use a new type of element, and once they see Sigma use that lens element, they start using it. I’m very happy to play such a role. Sigma is kind of the guinea pig in the lens industry: they use Sigma as an experiment, and if we prove it, they use it.”

This commitment to pushing the use of new glass types reflects Yamaki’s wider vision of the company’s role. This can be seen in the ambitious lenses it’s recently introduced aimed at astrophotography, he says.

“First of all, I believe it’s one of Sigma’s missions to create niche products. If we only concentrate on standard products and release lower-priced versions, it’s not good: we would not be able to contribute to the development of the photography culture. As a lens manufacturer it’s our mission to develop such niche lenses that satisfy a specific target group.”

“Secondly, most lenses are so good, maybe much better than people’s expectations. But only astrophotographers are never satisfied: they’re so keen for quality! They’re looking at the shape of stars in the corners. Star images are the toughest, most challenging subject, or let’s say, the most nasty lens chart. You can see all kinds of aberrations in star images. That’s why we want to show what we can do with our capability. So lenses for astrophotography is my personal strong passion to show the capability of Sigma’s technology.”

The future of APS-C

Yamaki says the audience for its I-series of full-frame lenses, such as the 17mm F4 DG DN pictured, is similar to that for the DC DN range of APS-C primes. However, it doesn’t sound like there are plans for I-series-style versions of the DC lenses.

Image: Sigma

With all this talk of niches, we steered the conversation towards the DC DN primes. We wanted to know whether he sees the users of these lenses as distinct from those of the mid-priced i-Series full-frame primes, which feature metal bodies and aperture rings.

“I see they are very similar customers: those who value compactness and image quality. These customers often live in big cities and use public transportation a lot. So they cannot carry around big, heavy equipment in the car. They have to carry it around in their bags.”

Despite this, it doesn’t sound like there are any plans to refresh the DC DNs with more i-Series-like designs: “Those who want full-frame can use the I series lenses, while those who are happy with APS-C cameras can use the many lightweight DC DN lenses,” he says.

But, while we won’t expect APS-C primes with aperture rings for X-mount or the Nikon Z fc any time soon, Yamaki’s comments about his commitment to APS-C bode well, given the announcement that it’ll make lenses for both Nikon’s Z mount and Canon’s RF system:

“Our plan is to have a relatively complete range of lenses for APS-C sized sensors.”


This article was based on an interview conducted by Dale Baskin and Richard Butler at the CP+ show in Yokohama, Japan.



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Sigma CEO talks market trends, the challenge of innovation and the future for APS-C

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Sigma CEO talks market trends, the challenge of innovation and the future for APS-C


Sigma CEO Kazuto Yamaki

Photo: Richard Butler

“All camera and lens manufacturers have to be innovative,” says Sigma CEO Kazuto Yamaki, but “technology competition among manufacturers may not always be beneficial to customers… Easier to use interfaces, compact and lightweight bodies for enhanced portability, or some other specifications might be more important.”

In the second part of a wide-ranging interview conducted at the CP+ show in Yokohama in late February, Yamaki talked about current state of the market, the need for innovation and the challenges of delivering that innovation.

State of the market

“Last year was not so bad,” he says, when asked about the state of the market: “It looks like the trend of the shrinking market has hit the bottom.” But he suggests this may not continue: “For the time being, many photographers are now switching from DSLR to mirrorless, which will sustain the market. However, after they switch to mirrorless cameras, I worry that the market could shrink in the coming years.”

“One reason for my concern is the increasing average price of cameras and lenses. I truly appreciate the passion of the customers who are still spending so much money on cameras and lenses. However, I’m afraid that not so many customers can afford such high-priced cameras and lenses, so we’re still trying hard to keep the retail price reasonable.”

“I’m afraid that not so many customers can afford such high-priced cameras and lenses”

“Especially these days, the younger generation takes huge amounts of photos with smartphones. While we can expect some of them to switch from a smartphone to a camera, many may find the price gap too wide, and challenging to make the switch.”

Yamaki also expresses concern about some of the tech trends he’s seeing: “Investing in the development of more advanced technology is crucial. However, it’s equally important to focus on our customers.”

“We’ve seen some cameras with very technically impressive specifications, but I worry that they’re not always capabilities that many photographers really need. Moving forward, I speculate that more user-friendly specifications might mean more to customers. Easier to use interfaces, a compact and lightweight body for enhanced portability, or some other specifications might be more important.”

The challenges of innovation

Sigma has launched some ambitious and unusual lenses in recent years, including the 14mm F1.4 DG DN. Yamaki describes astrophotography, for which it’s designed, as the most challenging subject.

Image: Sigma

He uses the recently announced 500mm F5.6 as an example of customer-focused innovation. “Canon and Nikon had similar lenses for DSLRs. They achieved it by using diffractive lens elements,” he explains: “Instead of using one powerful diffractive element, we used multiple special low-dispersion [SLD] glass. We used one SLD and three FLD elements. By using multiple special lenses, we could achieve a similar effect. That’s how we can make it so compact and lightweight.”

But this approach isn’t simple, he says: “It requires lots of very high manufacturing technology and skill, but because we have a very good factory and our optical designers trust the capability of our factory, we were able to go for this design.”

“In most cases, we are the first to use new types of glass, and once they see Sigma use that lens element, they start using it.”

“This trust is really, really important,” he explains: “Lens polishing is still a unique process that has a lower yield. Normally, in something like electronics, the yield ratio is something like 99.99996 percent, or something like that. But when it comes to lenses, for example, in our case, because our yield is so high, our yield ratio from the start of the process to the end is close to 90%. So if we plan to build 1,000 units of a specific lens, we have to start polishing 1,100 pieces, and during the process, about 10% of the lens elements will fail and have to be scrapped.”

A question of trust

“That’s the reason why other companies hesitate to use new glass elements. They are uncertain about the yield ratio. In most cases, we are the first to use a new type of element, and once they see Sigma use that lens element, they start using it. I’m very happy to play such a role. Sigma is kind of the guinea pig in the lens industry: they use Sigma as an experiment, and if we prove it, they use it.”

This commitment to pushing the use of new glass types reflects Yamaki’s wider vision of the company’s role. This can be seen in the ambitious lenses it’s recently introduced aimed at astrophotography, he says.

“First of all, I believe it’s one of Sigma’s missions to create niche products. If we only concentrate on standard products and release lower-priced versions, it’s not good: we would not be able to contribute to the development of the photography culture. As a lens manufacturer it’s our mission to develop such niche lenses that satisfy a specific target group.”

“Secondly, most lenses are so good, maybe much better than people’s expectations. But only astrophotographers are never satisfied: they’re so keen for quality! They’re looking at the shape of stars in the corners. Star images are the toughest, most challenging subject, or let’s say, the most nasty lens chart. You can see all kinds of aberrations in star images. That’s why we want to show what we can do with our capability. So lenses for astrophotography is my personal strong passion to show the capability of Sigma’s technology.”

The future of APS-C

Yamaki says the audience for its I-series of full-frame lenses, such as the 17mm F4 DG DN pictured, is similar to that for the DC DN range of APS-C primes. However, it doesn’t sound like there are plans for I-series-style versions of the DC lenses.

Image: Sigma

With all this talk of niches, we steered the conversation towards the DC DN primes. We wanted to know whether he sees the users of these lenses as distinct from those of the mid-priced i-Series full-frame primes, which feature metal bodies and aperture rings.

“I see they are very similar customers: those who value compactness and image quality. These customers often live in big cities and use public transportation a lot. So they cannot carry around big, heavy equipment in the car. They have to carry it around in their bags.”

Despite this, it doesn’t sound like there are any plans to refresh the DC DNs with more i-Series-like designs: “Those who want full-frame can use the I series lenses, while those who are happy with APS-C cameras can use the many lightweight DC DN lenses,” he says.

But, while we won’t expect APS-C primes with aperture rings for X-mount or the Nikon Z fc any time soon, Yamaki’s comments about his commitment to APS-C bode well, given the announcement that it’ll make lenses for both Nikon’s Z mount and Canon’s RF system:

“Our plan is to have a relatively complete range of lenses for APS-C sized sensors.”


This article was based on an interview conducted by Dale Baskin and Richard Butler at the CP+ show in Yokohama, Japan.



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